Rob had fun watching the airline type info screens in our carriage (number 7) to see how fast the train was really travelling - he noted that at one stage it was running at 293 kph!! Needless to say it was a very fast trip (1 hour and 45 minutes) to Firenze.
From Firenze we caught a much slower regional train service to Lucca in the north west of Toscano (Tuscany). For the first few stops out of Firenze the train was very crowded with people - including lots of uni students who must live in the cheaper accommodation areas just outside the city of Firenze.
We arrived in Lucca around 2.30pm and managed to find our accommodation in Via Santa Croce with the usual number of wrong turns and false starts. Paolo was waiting for us along with a bottle of local Chianti Classico, a dozen red roses and a very special package of pasticcios(?) from Pinelli in Via Beccheria. Our apartment is beautiful; we are thrilled with it - a very comfortable home away from home for the next week, in this gorgeous old medieval Tuscan town.
This is the view from the little dining area window (late afternoon).
After settling in we decided we'd get our bearings and try and find a few supplies for the next day or so. We thought we'd be very clever and make our way out of the medieval walled old town and try and find our way to Esselunga, the large supermarket favoured by the locals - just outside and to the north west of the old city walls.
This is me (below) just outside our apartment building in Via Santa Croce (it's quite a new building - only about 300 years old).
We made our way up Via Fillungo, the main street in the old town....
and turned left into the Piazza San Frediano.....
and a close up view of the church's 13th century Byzantine-style mosaic - mostly made with gold leaf. The church building is actually even older than the mosaic on its facade.
We walked out of the old town at the Baluardo San Frediano, one of the city wall's 6 gates. The pic below shows a little extension of the main rampart wall - which circles the old town of Lucca - 4 kilometres long and wide enough for parks and trees to be planted along it, and walking / riding paths - we want to walk it all tomorrow!
The whole town is a complete well preserved museum of its 13th century heyday - with Renaissance era overlays - while still remaining a living, working, relatively prosperous authentic Tuscan town (and not too touristy either). Lucca got its initial wealth as a trade town and manufacturer of high quality silk - now it is well known for its high value added agricultural products (and Italian language schools). Lucca is the centre of the Tuscan olive oil industry.